by Pat Cascio, Survival Blog:
I still remember, arriving at Ft. Lewis, WA in the Fall of 1969 and being issued the M-16 for my Infantry School training. It was a real joy to carry that rifle, especially after having carried the M-14, which weighed at 10 ½-lbs, in my Basic Training. The M-16 was only about 5½ lbs, so it was about half the weight of the M-14.
There were some flaws in the early M-16, one of which was that the first ones to go to Viet Nam didn’t have chromed barrels, and the barrels themselves were considered “pencil” barrels, because they were so thin. Once the barrels heated-up under continuous fire, accuracy dropped off dramatically. Then there was the problem with the ammunition; the propellant itself caused problems and the guns ran dirty and malfunctioned a lot. Of course, there was also the misleading information that the M-16 didn’t need cleaning, that it was actually “self-cleaning”. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Design flaws were corrected, and over the years the M-16 evolved into one of the finest combat rifles on this planet. I’m not about to get into a discussion as to which military or military-style rifle is the “best” for combat. We all have our favorites. We’ve seen the original M-16 go from being a strictly military select-fire weapon to a civilian version that was semi-auto only. Also, the gun shrank down in size over the years to many different versions, manufactured by many different makers, using different model numbers for the gun’s designation. The most popular version is the M-4 (generic), and it is called different models by different makers, too.
The M-4 is a “carbine” (sorta) version of the full-sized M-16 in use by the U.S. military. The civilian version(s) are similar, in that they usually run with a 16” Bbl and have a telescoping stock of some sort. I’ve seen the venerable AR-15/M-16 go from being a full-sized combat rifle that was light-weight to those having heavier barrels. I’ve also seen the M-4, civilian and military versions, turned from neat, very cool, light-weight and compact carbines into guns that now weigh as much, if not more, than that M-14 I carried in Basic Training, because so many things have been added to the guns. In my humble opinion, some folks just don’t “get it”, that the purpose of the M-4 is as a compact, fast-handling, and easy to carry and shoot weapon.
There are civilian versions of the M-4 with fixed stocks, as well as various types of telescoping style stocks from various makers. While I really like the telescoping stocks since they are great for adjusting the fit of the gun based on the clothing and gear you are wearing, I don’t much care for fixed stocks on these guns.
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